Should we negotiate with the Taliban? | The Tylt

Should we negotiate with the Taliban?

Members of the U.S. government flew to Kabul this week to negotiate with members of the Taliban. No members of the Afghan government were present. The conversations reversed years of U.S. policy dictating that any negotiations with the Taliban be lead by the local Afghan government. The U.S. says the talks are an important step toward peace after 17 years of war in the region. Others feel that by negotiating with terrorists we are putting Afghans at risk. What do you think?

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The talks come at a time when the Taliban has been showing an unprecedented willingness to compromise with the United States. The Taliban considers the U.S. a hostile occupying force Afghanistan and has insisted it would only negotiate if there was a complete withdrawal of troops. Recently, though, the group has indicated in private that it would be willing to accept a settlement in which the U.S. maintains a troop presence in the country, in exchange for allowing the Taliban to participate in the Afghan government as a legitimate political party. With political recognition for the Taliban, the group agrees it would cease terrorist activity.

The negotiations have been spearheaded by Robin Raphel, a former senior U.S. diplomat, and Chris Kolenda, a retired U.S. Army Colonel. Both believe it is imperative to take advantage of the willingness the Taliban is showing to talk. According to the Daily Beast, Kolenda said of his involvement in the Afghan War:

“I’m responsible for the death of hundreds on hundreds on hundreds of these dudes. I have never lost a wink of sleep because I know we were doing the right thing in the right way,” he said. “But violence is not an end in itself. When your adversary is ready to accept your war aims, then I think you’ve got an obligation to pursue a serious way to end the war.”

In the same Daily Beast piece, Raphel agreed, saying:

“It’s our responsibility and our duty to pursue a diplomatic solution to this conflict and the way things have evolved in the last year or so, it’s clear there is an opportunity. It’s our responsibility to seize it,” Raphel said. “We can’t stand by and let it pass, considering the number of Afghans, Americans, and others who have died in this war.”
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Ryan Crocker, a former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan—as well as Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Kuwait, and Lebanon—fears the negotiations will put the social gains that have been made in the country at risk. 

Talking to NPR, Crocker noted the Afghan government, with the support of the U.S., has emphasized women's rights in the country, increasing the number of women in leadership roles, expanding educational opportunities for girls, and more. He worries the violently conservative Taliban would undo all of those advances if allowed to regain control of the country. Crocker also fears that by acknowledging the power of the Taliban, the U.S. has begun a slow but definitive retreat from the country.

What this reminds me of, more than anything...the Paris Talks over Vietnam. What those were were the beginning of a long surrender. And that’s what I’m worried about now. That simply by getting into the room with us, the Taliban feel they have scored a major political victory. We’re there, they’re there. The Afghan government is not. I worry that I’m going to see what we saw in Vietnam, except with far more grave social consequences.
FINAL RESULTS
Politics
Should we negotiate with the Taliban?
#NegotiateForPeace
A festive crown for the winner
#DontTalkWithTaliban